Author Topic: The Queen and Cunard  (Read 1860 times)

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Offline Michael Gallagher

The Queen and Cunard
« on: Sep 09, 2015, 08:34 AM »
While the exact moment Princess Elizabeth became Queen in February 1952 is not known, at some point today,  9 September 2015, Her Majesty The Queen will become the longest reigning British Monarch in history surpassing the record held by Queen Victoria who reigned from 1837 to 1901.

This is an achievement to be acknowledged and celebrated and tonight a Commemorative Dinner on each of Cunard’s three ships will pay tribute to The Queen as well as recall the remarkable association she has had with the company – a relationship that dates back to 1934!

During her reign The Queen has launched or named 23 ships - four of them Cunarders! And two of them for P&O!

It is a fact that The Queen’s association with Cunard dates back to 26 September 1934 when she was part of the royal party attending the launch of Queen Mary by Her Majesty Queen Mary.

Just four years later Princess Elizabeth and her sister Margaret returned to the Clyde when they watched their mother launch the biggest ship in the world – Queen Elizabeth.

Before she became Queen in 1952, the Princess, on her last public engagement before her wedding, was back at Clydebank on 20 October 1947 to launch Cunard’s Caronia. She was greeted by 40,000 wellwishers that day.

The second Queen Elizabeth, perhaps better known as QE2 and also built at Clydebank, was launched by The Queen on 20 September 1967. In doing so Her Majesty revealed the biggest secret of the day – the actual name of the new liner. The Queen had her first view of the ship as she flew overhead prior to landing at Glasgow Airport. At precisely 1428 hours on a sunny afternoon, in front of 30,000 Clydesiders, Her Majesty stepped forward on the launching platform and said: ‘I name this ship Queen Elizabeth the Second. May God bless her and all who sail in her.’

She cut the ribbon using the same gold scissors that her mother had used to launch Queen Elizabeth in 1938 and her grandmother to launch Queen Mary in 1934. This released the bottle of wine that smashed onto the side of the newly named liner. She pressed the button that electrically released the launching trigger.

Then nothing happened. For 70 seconds it seemed as if the ship did not move. The Queen looked amazed; the smile slowly faded from Prince Philip’s face. Workmen high up on her deck leaned over and shouted ‘Give us a shove!’ Shipyard director George Parker joined in the spirit of the request and bowler-hatted, he sprang to the bows and pushed. He jubilantly waved his bowler when, by a coincidence, she began to move. A little over two minutes after the Queen had named her, the new Elizabeth had slid smoothly into the Clyde. Newspapers the next day claimed the Queen had wept as the new ship entered the Clyde, and that Prince Philip took a white handkerchief from his pocket and handed it to her. The Queen exclaimed ‘Oh, look at her, she’s beautiful.’

Aircraft from the 736 Squadron of the Fleet Air Arm flew over the ship in an anchor formation as an aerial salute as six tugs manoeuvred her inch by inch into the fitting-out basin. The Queen and the royal party and guests then went to tea in the works canteen. There The Queen was the presented with a small speedboat for the Royal Yacht Britannia – built on the same berth as QE2. A delighted Queen thanked the shipyard chairman Lord Aberconway and suggested it may be appropriate to call it John Brown and have it painted in Cunard colours, to which Prince Philip retorted: ‘Why not call it Cunard and paint it brown?’

Almost two years later The Queen, accompanied by Prince Philip, visited QE2 on 1 May 1969 in Southampton on the eve of the ship’s Maiden Voyage.

Apart from the odd occasion when The Queen would view QE2 from the Royal Yacht Britannia she did not visit the Cunard flagship again until 27 July 1990 – the day of a Royal Review as part of Cunard 150th Anniversary Celebrations. The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh reviewed three Cunard ships (QE2, Vistafjord and Atlantic Conveyor) and Royal Navy ships at Spithead prior to transferring from Britannia to QE2 by Royal Barge and continued up Southampton Water while enjoying lunch on QE2. It was the first time a reigning Monarch had sailed on a commercial ship with other passengers.

37 years after launching QE2, Her Majesty travelled to Southampton on 8 January 2004 to name Queen Mary 2 – the largest, longest, tallest, widest and grandest ocean liner ever built. That ceremony is still regarded as the most spectacular of its kind ever.

A sad farewell occurred on 2 June 2008, the anniversary of her Coronation, when The Queen paid a farewell visit to QE2 in Southampton and enjoyed lunch on board. She unveiled a specially-commissioned portrait, ‘Coming Home’, depicting QE2’s forthcoming final Southampton arrival which was presented to Southampton by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh during his farewell visit on 11 November 2008 – the last day QE2 spent in the UK.

It wasn’t long before a new Queen Elizabeth would join the Cunard fleet and Cunard was honoured that Her Majesty agreed to name her which she did on 11 October 2010 in Southampton.

The Queen can claim to be the only person to have been present at all three Queen Elizabeth christening ceremonies.


« Last Edit: Sep 09, 2015, 09:18 AM by Michael Gallagher »

Offline Clydebuilt1971

Re: The Queen and Cunard
« Reply #1 on: Sep 09, 2015, 11:37 AM »
Thanks Michael,

I can understand why The Queen wept at QE2's launch - my desktop picture (Power - Water by Hamburger) has her bow cutting through the swell and dispersing the resultant wave outwards - just as it was designed to do but with a certain majestic quality - and I'm sure this wasn't lost on The Queen on launch day either.

Sometimes I pause and just look at this photo and end up with a lump in my throat - she epitomises Clydebuilt quality and it makes me feel proud - these days even more so than QM or QE. Even though I was never on board she lives on (in ways) in QM2 and ever time I look over her bow from the "bit beneath the bridge" I remember QE2.

Anyway - I digress (as usual) - thanks for this piece and the attachment!

Gav
« Last Edit: Sep 09, 2015, 11:42 AM by Clydebuilt1971 »

Offline June Ingram

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Re: The Queen and Cunard
« Reply #2 on: Sep 09, 2015, 02:19 PM »
Thank you, Michael, for your marvelous post covering so much about Her Majesty, The Queen, and about our beloved Queen Elizabeth 2.  It is obvious that our beloved ship had that certain charisma from the time she was launched if not before.  It is fitting to acknowledge that The Queen has achieved the milestone of being the longest reigning British Monarch and also fitting to acknowledge that QE2 is a ship who will never be forgotten, a ship who has achieved so much during her career, and a ship about whom so many care.  June
QE2 - the ship for all of time, a ship of timeless beauty !

Offline Roy Warrender

Re: The Queen and Cunard
« Reply #3 on: Sep 09, 2015, 04:46 PM »
The Queen has been in Scotland today opening  a Heritage Railway, If the information is correct they started with much less than  the proposed refurbishment of the QE2, no land, no rails to run on and I believe the train used today is loaned to them, they are just a band of enthusiasts, who got together raised the finances, and achieved the impossible
« Last Edit: Sep 09, 2015, 06:24 PM by Roy Warrender »

Online cunardqueen

Re: The Queen and Cunard
« Reply #4 on: Sep 09, 2015, 05:32 PM »
Thanks for the marvelous information.
One of the Cunard videos from the 90s shows the launching in a superb way, Makes you proud to be Brittish.

Alas we shall never know her private thoughts on the present day QE2..situation

Or her thoughts (if perhaps she even cares) that she was asked to name two "Queen" ships in recent years
and then suddenly the name Southampton ceremoniously dumped from the stern and replaced.

It is perhaps just as well.. :(
From the moment you first glimpsed the Queen,
 you just knew you were in for a very special time ahead.!

Online Isabelle Prondzynski

Re: The Queen and Cunard
« Reply #5 on: Sep 09, 2015, 08:27 PM »
Excellent write-up, Michael, and a fitting tribute for the day that's in it :) .

Offline Keith Walters

Re: The Queen and Cunard
« Reply #6 on: Sep 10, 2015, 02:58 AM »
Excellent write-up, Michael, and a fitting tribute for the day that's in it :) .


Her Majesty reached the milestone of surpassing Queen Victoria as the longest-reigning British Monarch, at around 4.30pm 9 September.  It was around 4.30am, 10 September here in my neck of the woods.  Long may she reign over us.
Cheers. 

Correction:Allowing for CURRENT London time, it would have been at around 5.30pm on 09 September. ;)
« Last Edit: Sep 12, 2015, 12:15 AM by Keith Walters »

Offline Hank Hargrove

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Re: The Queen and Cunard
« Reply #7 on: Sep 10, 2015, 05:53 AM »
Thank you Michael for revealing several anecdotes about Her Majesty and the launch of the QE2. As of now, Central Standard Time, it's 11:53 and still technically Queen Elizabeth's anniversary in my area. God save the queen!
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Offline Paul S

Re: The Queen and Cunard
« Reply #8 on: Sep 12, 2015, 01:15 PM »
The Queen has been in Scotland today opening  a Heritage Railway, If the information is correct they started with much less than  the proposed refurbishment of the QE2, no land, no rails to run on and I believe the train used today is loaned to them, they are just a band of enthusiasts, who got together raised the finances, and achieved the impossible

Not a heritage railway but a government-backed reopening of a section of the Waverley Line in the Borders which was closed in the late sixties in the Beeching cuts.  But your point is right - the chances of the line ever being reopened as part of the national rail network would have been thought infinitely slimmer than those of QE2 being saved today.

Online Peter Mugridge

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Re: The Queen and Cunard
« Reply #9 on: Sep 13, 2015, 12:29 AM »
The actual last trains over the Waverley line prior to this week were run on January 5th 1969 so there again we have another QE2 parallel - she was just entering service at that time...
"It is a capital mistake to allow any mechanical object to realise that you are in a hurry!"

 

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